Heavy Hands (interview)

A veteran of the UFC and former WEC champion, color commentator Brian Stann has a voice that fans and fighters alike have come to trust. Brian brings his extensive experience to Heavy Hands this week for an in-depth interview on all things fighting.

Stann shares his advice for young fighters caught between loyalty and ambition: "Sit down and ask yourself those hard questions. Talk with people you really trust--not coaches and management--and ask, 'am I getting better?' . . . It's hard for a fighter to look a beloved coach in the eye and say, 'Look, I have to go train here. There's nothing new you're gonna tell me, and doing the same thing every fight, I'm not winning. I'm stale. People have figured me out. I've gotta go add some new wrinkles to my game.'

On building a brand in a fight game dominated by brash personalities: "Open up. You have got to give access to [journalists] who write about this sport. You get so many guys--look at Jose Aldo. Hates doing media, hates the week of the fight, doesn't like all the stuff that goes with it. He's so phenomenal that it doesn't matter; he was able to go undefeated for a decade, right? But that's not the way to go about your business. You've gotta give access."

On Jones-Cormier II: "Daniel [Cormier] is an excellent competitor and a very underrated athlete. I've trained with him personally. You don't become an Olympian--this is a guy who turned down a full ride to go to LSU for football to go wrestle--he's a massive athlete . . . In rounds two and three against Jones he was getting inside and he was striking him. I thought he was turning the momentum of that fight. But he took a round off in round four and that was the main difference. You can't do that with Jon . . . I haven't seen anything technically that leads me to believe he's gonna be able to take Jon down consistently. Especially now that Jon has discovered weight lifting."

"And Jon's a unique athlete. Never lifted weights but you try to get your hands on him and his instincts for leverage and wrestling are phenomenal. I've watched him train with heavyweights and make them look really, really bad."

Stay tuned till the end of the episode for a UFC Brisbane recap and a few questions from our listeners.

Direct download: 96_brian_stann.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 5:43pm EDT

On this week's Heavy Hands, Pat Wyman and I were lucky enough to talk with Tyron Woodley, who is fighting former champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 192 on October 3rd.

Woodley gave us his thoughts on what it's like to possess such tremendous natural power, and spoke about his development as a striker and a mixed martial artist. He also had some choice words for Hendricks prior to their bout. According to Woodley, his college wrestling match with Hendricks would've played out differently had there been punches involved, and he aims to make that dream a reality this October.

After speaking to Woodley, Pat and I talk Max Holloway Charles Oliveira, the main event of this Sunday's UFC Saskatoon event. Listen to hear what we think of two of the featherweight division's most promising young contenders, and our predictions on how the fight will play out.

Direct download: 65_tyron_woodley.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:09am EDT

Last week we asked who could beat Ronda Rousey. This week we're asking the same question. Having beaten her third opponent in just over a minute--total, that is--Rousey finds herself at the top of a division that has very much failed to match her abilities. Despite having been beaten twice before, Miesha Tate is matched up for a third bout with the champ, and Pat and I agree that she may have something resembling a chance. Maybe. 

After that we discuss Stefan Struve, who is slowly learning to use his length and height, and Claudia Gadelha, whose rematch with strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk we're very much looking forward to. 

Finally, a fantastic interview with Glory WS kickboxer Raymond Daniels, who makes his second run at Nieky Holzken for the vacant welterweight title.

Direct download: 63_raymond_daniels.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:36am EDT

Recently myself and Patrick Wyman sat down to speak with Tristar MMA's Firas Zahabi, famed trainer of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and current welterweight contender Rory MacDonald, who is set to challenge Robbie Lawler for GSP's old title next Saturday, July 11th.

MacDonald first met Lawler in a three-round bout in November of 2013. MacDonald withstood some of the most punishing strikes of his career in that bout. A Lawler uppercut in the third round sent MacDonald to the canvas, and he was forced to defend himself for most of the frame before he managed to take top position at the very end of the bout, from which he rained down elbows and punches for the final ten seconds. Lawler took the split decision win, and went on to defeat Johny Hendricks for the championship, while MacDonald returned to the drawing board.

We asked Firas about that first bout, and what's changed since.

Firas Zahabi is one of the best trainers in the sport of MMA, and he had a lot more insight to share with us, including his thoughts on ground & pound as a specifically trained aspect of MMA, the difference between sport BJJ and jiu jitsu for mixed martial arts, and his thoughts on two other Tristar-bred prospects in Alex Garcia and Joseph Duffy. If you want to hear the rest, check out the full episode of Heavy Hands.

Direct download: 58_firas_zahabi.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:43am EDT

Not only is Jason High one of MMA's last road warriors, having fought for Strikeforce, Dream, K-1, and Affliction in addition to his two stints with the UFC, the "Kansas City Bandit" is much-loved by hardcore fans throughout the MMA community. In addition to a well-rounded, finish-oriented style of fighting, High is easily one of the best fighters to follow on social media--if you don't follow him already, just ask for Marcelino Evil.

High joined myself and Patrick Wyman on this week's Heavy Hands to discuss a number of subjects, including the recent end of a year-long suspension for... pushing a referee? 

High is well known for his well-rounded grappling game, highlighted by the same arm-in guillotine which Fabricio Werdum used to finish Cain Velasquez at last weekend's UFC 188. Aside from his submission skills, however, High possesses excellent, methodical ground & pound. We asked him about his scientific approach to wrestling and ground striking. "It's just efficient. That's really the name of the game. The higher you climb on that ladder, it's about who's more efficient. People aren't making mistakes, so you can't be that first guy to make a mistake. That all starts in the gym--a lot of people don't understand that. It all comes from saying focused and drilling."

High, like the ATT team with which he is affiliated, operates on the cutting edge of the current MMA metagame. Concerning grappling in mixed martial arts, he said, "A lot of guys, when they're in the guard, they focus on passing guard. In MMA you can do damage. You don't really need to pass guard . . . It's hard to submit a savvy opponent inside the guard . . . The best option to me [from bottom] in today's MMA is just to get back up."

We also asked High his thoughts on hard sparring, which has become a hot topic in light of the recent criticisms leveled at teams like AKA and Roufussport, both of which are known for frequent hard sparring--and frequent injuries. "I'm on the fence about that," High said. "Me, personally, I need to spar. I need to feel that hard blow . . . I feel like if you have a group that you trust, that you can spar hard with, you're training on the edge, you know? In any sport, it's about pushing to the edge, but not pushing over it. Hard sparring definitely has a place in the game." 

Jason wasn't sure where he'd be going next, but now that his suspension is finally over he assured us we would know very soon. Whether it's the UFC or Bellator, where High's business partner L.C. Davis currently resides, we wish him the best, and look forward to his next fight. 

Direct download: 56_jason_high.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 2:01pm EDT

I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Joe Delguyd, boxing coach at Cleveland's Strong Style MMA, on the latest episode of Heavy Hands. Strong Style hosts a number of high-level UFC fighters, among them heavyweight Stipe Miocic and bantamweight Jessica Eye, for whom Delguyd has very high hopes. 

When it comes to Ronda Rousey, the current champion in Eye's division, Delguyd has no delusions about her finishing ability. "Once . . . your hip meets her hip, it's goodnight, adios amigo. [To beat her] somebody is gonna have to give her a tremendous amount of movement . . . maybe make her reach, maybe make her make mistakes, maybe use the jab to punish her a little, swell her up . . . Maybe even be Mayweather-ish, you know? Don't be so fan-friendly . . .The girl that has that particular skillset is in our house."

"I have all the confidence in the world in [Jessica Eye]. Everybody else in the world is coming straight in, and [an out-boxing style] is the specific skillset, and she has that specific skillset."

One of Delguyd's other fighters is Stipe Miocic, who is set to face Mark Hunt in the main event of UFC Adelaide this weekend. 

"I've watched Mark Hunt since he was in K-1 fifteen years ago," Delguyd said. "People see Mark Hunt and they see an older fat guy. But he maintains that . . . short, punching power . . . But Stipe has all the long tools. I think what we're gonna see . . . is Stipe use the jab and straight right hand at long range. He's gonna use angles, and I don't think Mark Hunt is gonna be able to find him with those short power shots. 

Direct download: 50_joe_delguyd.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 5:16pm EDT

When it comes to breaking down a fight, who better to ask than a world-renowned film junkie and MMA trainer who has prepared fighters for both of the competitors? That's why Connor and Pat asked Firas Zahabi, head of the world class Tristar Gym and trainer of such men as Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald, to analyze the main event of UFC 181, a welterweight title clash between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.

Zahabi cornered Rory MacDonald against Robbie Lawler last year, a fight which Lawler ultimately won, sealing his claim to a shot at the belt. Before that, Zahabi prepared then-champion Georges St-Pierre for now-champion Johny Hendricks, a bout that would prove to be GSP's toughest, and final title defense.

Firas breaks down both men for Pat and Connor on today's episode, and then your hosts discuss in detail their own thoughts on UFC  181, including both Hendricks-Lawler II, and the co-main event, a lightweight title fight between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez.

Direct download: 29_Zahabi_and_UFC_181.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:28am EDT

28 - Steven "The Warman" Wright Interview (trainer of Johny Hendricks)

We've got a very special guest for you this week!

Connor and Pat are joined by Steven "The Warman" Wright, striking coach of Team Takedown, and most notably of UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. December 6th, Hendricks defends his title for the first time--in a rematch with the man over whom he won it. Robbie Lawler came very close to finishing Hendricks in the first bout, but Hendricks proved too tough, too skilled, and too determined to be the champ.

Steven details some of the improvements that Johny has made as a striker, and goes in-depth into his method for turning a wrestler, Team Takedown's stock and trade, into a killer kickboxer.

Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 28_steven_the_warman.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:05am EDT

Coach Mike Riordan joins Connor and Pat on today's episode of Heavy Hands to talk about wrestling, that weird sport in which two guys roll around in unitards.

Of course, wrestling is also a fundamental aspect of MMA, and plays into just about every phase of the sport, be it striking on the feet, on the ground, or riding and pinning opponents to find opportunities for submissions and control.

The crew also discusses UFC 179. In particular, the wrestling clinic put on by Phil Davis (with a bit of discussion about where Davis' coaches may be going wrong in training him to strike on the outside) and the insane defensive wrestling of featherweight champ Jose Aldo. All of that and more on today's Heavy Hands!

Direct download: 24_-_Coach_Mike.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 2:22pm EDT

Duane Ludwig is knowledgeable, talented, and very hard to keep up with.

After TJ Dillashaw overcame 7-to-1 odds and not only beat but crushed Renan Barao to win the UFC bantamweight title, I sat down to talk to his coach, Duane "Bang" Ludwig, himself a veteran of the UFC and K-1.

Ludwig talks about turning the Alpha Male crew into martial artists rather than just athletes, and explains the difference between the two. He goes into detail regarding his system, Bang Muay Thai, and what sets it above the rest of the riff-raff in MMA. He is proud of his fighters, unashamed of claiming credit for some of their successes, and a hell of an interview. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

 

Direct download: 21-Duane_Bang_Ludwig.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 5:56am EDT